Post-Breakup Rebound Sex Is Real and It's Spectacular

Illustration for article titled Post-Breakup Rebound Sex Is Real and It's Spectacular

There are a myriad of well-trod paths away from heartbreak. You can go the Bridget Jones'/Cathy cartoon route and eat single serving Duncan Hines microwaveable cakes alone while listening to London Grammar. You can declare your friends BETTER THAN ANY MAN! over brunch, or have an temporarily esteem-empowering but wallet-depleting shopping trip. You can get a cathartic Jennifer Lawrence haircut on a whim. But there's also another route from Sad Breakup Town that's much less PG-rated: fuck your way out.

Turns out, sleeping with a person or people you don't care about is a fairly popular way for a the jilted party in a breakup to get past their feelings of inadequacy or undesirability. Researchers at the University of Missouri found that within the first four weeks after a breakup, about a third of study participants had sex with a new partner, and many who did this reported that they did it as a way to get back at their ex. The likelihood of participants having "revenge sex" increased if the person in question was the breakee rather than the breaker in their relationship. And the more driven by anger participants were in engaging in post-breakup sex, the more likely they were to continue having meaningless sexual encounters, and the longer the duration of that behavioral phase would last.

The study's authors referred to what my grandmother would call whorin' around as a "maladaptive" behavior, but I'm not willing to paint all post-breakup promiscuity with such a wide brush. Sure, having sex to make an outside party angry is probably an unhealthy reason to have sex and likely doesn't serve a person's long-term mental health very well (and is predictable, might I add, given the small sample size of the study and the likelihood that, given that the study took place at a college, most of the participants were college students, who aren't traditionally excellent at emotional maturity). But having post-breakup sex because you are angry, and because you want to move forward and gain power back for yourself, can be a good thing. Don't fuck a handsome semi-stranger to get back at someone; do it to get off and move on.


In my decade of experience with dealing with adult breakups of my own and of my friends (so, you know, anecdata, but probably with just as large a sample size as the one in the UMissouri study), I've found a well-executed slut phase empowering, a way to distance oneself from the negativity of an old relationship before setting off on a new, single path or a path as a couple with a new person. During the time a person isn't ready to be single or in a relationship, a self-directed sexual Rumspringa can provide a boost in moving on. Acting "dirty," in some cases, can be cleansing.

A well-executed post breakup slut phase can be good for the health of future relationships as well; it takes the pressure off when the heartbroken party meets a person they actually, you know, like. It's much easier (and more emotionally responsible) to unload baggage little by little, on several people over the course of a few high condom use weeks than it is to cry about your ex into some guy's chest hair after the fifth date.

This isn't to say that it's moral and good to chase a breakup with some cloak-and-dagger raw dogging with your best friend's boyfriend. But if you're being honest with what they're after from an encounter — just some dead inside sex — and the other party is okay with that, then I say wrap it up and fuck yourself silly.

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Wait I thought this was standard procedure? Or am I and most people I know existing in some insular post break-up 'maladaptive' fuck bubble?